|Publication number||US7391211 B2|
|Application number||US 11/269,081|
|Publication date||Jun 24, 2008|
|Filing date||Nov 8, 2005|
|Priority date||Nov 8, 2005|
|Also published as||US20070103152|
|Publication number||11269081, 269081, US 7391211 B2, US 7391211B2, US-B2-7391211, US7391211 B2, US7391211B2|
|Inventors||David W. Cripe|
|Original Assignee||Continental Automotive Systems Us, Inc.|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (16), Referenced by (11), Classifications (8), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This invention is generally related to a fluxgate magnetometer for detecting a magnetic field. More particularly, this invention is directed toward a digital magnetometer implemented with a microcontroller.
Non-contact torque sensors utilize a magnetoelastic material applied to a torque transducer. Application of torque to the torque transducer generates a magnetic field. The generated magnetic field is detected and converted to a usable electric signal by a magnetometer. Current magnetometers utilize a fluxgate circuit to detect and convert the generated magnetic field into a usable electric signal proportional to the applied torque.
A fluxgate circuit includes a non-linear magnetic element that is contained within a coil of wire. An alternating electrical current is applied to the coil to generate an alternating magnetic field. The alternating magnetic field magnetically saturates the magnetic element twice each excitation period. An external magnetic field as is generated by the torque transducer is superimposed onto the magnetic field produced by the coil of wire causing an asymmetric saturation of the magnetic element. The asymmetry of the saturation in turn causes a voltage waveform across the coil at a frequency twice that of the excitation frequency. The amplitude and phase of this signal is used as a feedback signal to the coil. The feedback provides a stable, linear sensor response desirable for many sensing applications.
Disadvantageously, conventional fluxgate circuits are comprised of several analog components that require delicate assembly and take up valuable space. Some fluxgate circuits have digitally integrated some features, however, an analog switch is retained for performing heterodyning functions, and also includes an analog buffer device to provide current feedback.
Accordingly, it is desirable to develop and design a magnetometer that does not utilize analog components and that is implemented entirely on an integrated circuit microcontroller.
An example fluxgate magnetometer circuit according to this invention includes a microcontroller providing the function of a comparator and a gate device to provide both a feedback signal to the various fluxgates utilized to detect the magnetic field and an output utilized for communicating information indicative of the sensor value.
An example fluxgate magnetometer circuit according to this invention includes an integrated circuit that provides the various functions otherwise provided by way of separate analog components. A microcontroller provides the function of a voltage comparator that receives a signal from a common node from various fluxgates in magnetic communication with the coil assembly of the sensor. The voltage comparator provides a signal that is combined with a clock signal to a flip-flop gate circuit. The flip-flop gate circuit provides an output that is communicated through a digital filter and to a feedback loop. The feedback loop provides current to the fluxgates inducing them with a magnetic field such that the long-term average magnetic field within them is zero. The output from the digital filter is also provided as a function programmed into the microcontroller. The digital filter provides a conversion to a modulated signal that is used and encoded as is required for a system that utilizes output provided by the sensor.
Because each of these functions otherwise requiring specific analog devices in prior art functions is comprised in a single microcontroller, the cost and complexity of the magnetometer circuit is reduced. Accordingly, the fluxgate magnetometer circuit according to this invention provides reduced size and elimination of analog components, and also allows the example circuit to be easily adapted to application specific requirements.
These and other features of the present invention can be best understood from the following specification and drawings, the following of which is a brief description.
The magnetometer circuit 24 is shown schematically in this
In this example, there are two pairs of inductors 22, a first fluxgate pair 23 and a second fluxgate pair 25. Each of the fluxgate pairs are each coupled at a separate node 50, 52. The first fluxgate pair 23 is coupled at the first node 50. The second pair 25 is coupled at the second node 52.
A drive signal exerted on the coil 18 at 90°, 180° and 270° is provided. This drive signal is a periodic square-wave digital logic signal of amplitude and frequency determined and provided to saturate the fluxgates 22. The fluxgates 22 are saturated in a negative and a positive extreme depending on the bias of the alternating current. As appreciated, the alternating current includes negative and positive peaks. At each of these peaks the fluxgates 22 are magnetically saturated.
Generation of a magnetic field by the magnetoelastic ring 17 creates an imbalance in the magnetic field produced by the coil 18. Any imbalance in the magnetic field between adjacent fluxgates 22 creates an asymmetry or imbalance at the time at which saturation occurs within each of the fluxgate pairs 23, 25. It is this imbalance that results in a signal at each of the nodes 50, 52 between the fluxgates 22. The signal at each of the common nodes 50, 52 is at a frequency that is twice that of the coil drive frequency utilized to excite the coil 18.
The signal present at each of the nodes 50, 52 is a voltage waveform that provides an input to the microcontroller 16. The microcontroller 16 is programmed to provide various functions as is shown schematically in
The signal from the gate 35 is then input into a flip-flop gate 34. The flip-flop gate 35 is clocked at four times the drive frequency with the clock edges nominally corresponding to 45°, 135°, and 310° relative to the fluxgate drive signal. As appreciated and discussed here and above the fluxgate drive signal is an alternating current such that an alternating magnetic field is produced that magnetically saturates each of the fluxgates 22. The output of the flip-flop gate 34 is split into two.
A first portion of the output is sent to a feedback loop generally indicated at 36. The feedback loop 36 provides a current to the flux common nodes of each of the respected flux gate pairs 23, 25. The current input by the feedback induces a magnetic field within each of the fluxgates such that an average magnetic field within each of the fluxgates is close to zero. In other words, the feedback provided by the feedback loop 36 is a current that produces a magnetic field equal to that magnetic field that is generated equal and opposite to that magnetic field that is generated by the torque transducer 12. The equal and opposite magnetic field is an accurate representation of the actual torque provided with the magnetic field generated by the magnetoelastic ring 17. Accordingly, the output of the flip-flop gate 54 is essentially the magnetic field that is seen by each of the fluxgates 22 responsive to application of torque to the torque transducer 12.
The second portion is passed to a digital filter 46. The digital filter 46 receives the same signal from the flip-flop gate 34 that is input to the feedback loop 36. The digital filter 46 is integrated within the microcontroller 16. The digital filter converts the signal from the flip-flop gate 34 into the form and recording that is required by a system to utilize data gathered from the sensor. The signal output from the digital filter 46 may be in the form of impulse modulated frequency or other type of signal modifications that are utilized to accurately generate data representative of physical parameters measured by the sensor assembly.
As appreciated, the various functions described with reference to the comparator 28, the exclusive or logic gate 35, the flip-flop gate 34 and the digital filter are all integrated as software in the microcontroller 16.
This is an alternate simpler configuration utilizing only a first fluxgate 56 and a second fluxgate 58. The fluxgates 56 and 58 are driven by a squared current signal that is applied to the coil 18. This square wave signal provides for the alternate magnetic saturation of the fluxgates 56, 58. A reference circuit is provided that consists of two resistors connected in series across the two complementary drive amplifiers. The voltage comparator 28 compares the voltage signals of the common node 60 of the common node 63 of the resistors 64, 62. The comparator output signal is then combined with a signal twice the frequency of the fluxgate drive in an exclusive gate as indicated at 35. The signal 33 is the clock signal and is twice the frequency of the fluxgate drive signal.
The output from the exclusive logic gate 35 is input into the flip-flop gate 34 that is clocked at four times the drive frequency with the clock edges nominally corresponding with 45°, 135°, 225°, and 315° with respect to the fluxgate drive signal. The output of the flip-flop gate 34 is then digitally buffered within the digital filter 46.
As in the previous example embodiment, the signal from the flip-flop 34 is sent to the digital filter 46 and is also provided to a feedback circuit 36. The feedback circuit or loop 36 provides for additional current to the fluxgates to induce with additional current that provides a zeroing of the magnetic field. The current provides for an equal and opposite magnetic field generation with respect to the magnetic field generated by the magnetoelastic ring. Accordingly, this example utilizes only a single pair of fluxgates in combination with a pair or resistors 64, 62 simplify the circuit and components of the microcontroller 55.
Accordingly, this invention utilizes a single low cost microcontroller that stands alone and does away with the use and requirement of using analog and digital converters. Further, the microcontroller utilized in this invention can be reprogrammed for each application for which a magnetometer is required. Therefore, the magnetometer circuit of this invention is capable of being utilized for many applications and for measuring magnetic fields for differently configured torque sensors.
Further, as no analog circuit components are used in the power consumption required by the microcontroller is significantly reduced and the micro-controller can also be programmed to add additional signal processing as is required to fully utilize the capabilities of the microcontroller that are otherwise not available in analog magnetometer circuits.
Although a preferred embodiment of this invention has been disclosed, a worker of ordinary skill in this art would recognize that certain modifications would come within the scope of this invention. For that reason, the following claims should be studied to determine the true scope and content of this invention.
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|U.S. Classification||324/253, 73/862.331, 73/779|
|International Classification||G01B7/16, G01R33/04, G01L1/12|
|Nov 8, 2005||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: SIEMENS VDO AUTOMOTIVE CORPORATION, MICHIGAN
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNOR:CRIPE, DAVID W.;REEL/FRAME:017227/0971
Effective date: 20051019
|May 19, 2008||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS US, INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SIEMENS VDO AUTOMOTIVE CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:020993/0619
Effective date: 20071203
Owner name: CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS US, INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: CHANGE OF NAME;ASSIGNOR:SIEMENS VDO AUTOMOTIVE CORPORATION;REEL/FRAME:020993/0601
Effective date: 20071203
|Dec 15, 2011||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|May 28, 2014||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS, INC., MICHIGAN
Free format text: MERGER;ASSIGNOR:CONTINENTAL AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS US, INC.;REEL/FRAME:033034/0225
Effective date: 20121212
|Dec 15, 2015||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8